Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tamaki
Auckland gallery is located on the corner of Kitchener and Wellesley Street, just walking distance from the Sky Tower and Britomart. The Gallery has NZ’s largest collection of art, showing a continually changing collection of modern and historic art from NZ and around the world.
Bulli Point – Taupo
Named the second best swimming spot in NZ by the AA Directions Magazine. This swimming spot is actually a cliff where swimmers jump into lake Taupo from rocky ledges 3-5m high. This spot is tricky to find. It is located on SH1 north of Turangi and south of Taupo. Just north of the camp ground, Motutere Bay Holiday Park, you will see a road side barrier where there will probably be swimmers cars parked. Park your car and follow the well tread track down to the cliff edge. There is no beach and this spot is not suitable for children. Even on a horrible day this is great spot to refresh before you drive further north or south.
Cape Reinga, Northland
A visit to New Zealand is not complete without a journey to the very top of the North-Island, Cape Reinga. The lighthouse is a common New Zealand icon and a popular tourist destination although the lighthouse itself is not open to the public. The lighthouse was first built in 1941 and is a historic building in New Zealand. At the Cape, the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in a spectacular swirl of currents. It’s not quite the most northern point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga is the end of the road.
Castlepoint is one of New Zealand’s most stunning geographical locations. The point has a light house that you can walk up to. But the most stunning walk is the Castle Rock that is at the southern point of the Castlepoint reef. Once you have driven through the Castlepoint settlement you will see cars parked on the beach. You can drive along this beach but if you don’t have a 4WD you may get stuck when the tide comes in. Once you have driven as far you think is safe you will see a massive rock to the south. This is Castle Rock where you can climb to the top. The view from the top is spectacular. The reef is also an interesting place to explore. However, the reef is very dangerous and multiple people have been washed off the reef and have drowned in the sea that pounds the coast.
Drive to Hahei in the Coromandel and then drive to the end of Grange Road. From here you will walk for 35 min there and 45min. The return journey is longer due to the upward gradient back to your car. The track has steps and is steep in parts. This takes you down to Cathedral Cove beach where you will find one of the world’s most pristine and stunning beaches. There are no shops or cafes so pack your lunch and wear good walking shoes.
Fielding Stock Yards
This is the Southern Hemisphere's largest stock yard. A stock yard is where farmers and abattoirs meet to trade livestock. The stock yard is in the middle of Fielding Town. Fielding has been voted NZ’s best small town many times. The yard is open most Fridays and you can walk freely around the many pens and see 100’s of sheep and cows. You can also take a seat in the auction hall and see the auction in action.
This beach is unique in that you can drive your car along it. Be careful not to get your car stuck in the soft sand or do not try and drive through the streams that cross the beach. Try and drive on the tracks of cars that have gone before you. A cool tradition here is to light a fire and roast marshmallows using the millions of pieces of drift wood that cover the beach. Check to see if there is a fire band before you light the fire. The fire bands are usually are in summer. To get access to the beach drive to Foxton Beach and you can drive down to the sand next to the Surf Life Saving Club.
Gannet Colony, Hawke’s Bay
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve is home to two gannet colonies, saddle, and black reef. Both are closed to public access; however, the Black Reef Colony can be viewed from the beach. Numbers of the gannets have steadily increased to 6,500 pairs, which makes it the largest and most accessible mainland colony in the world. To get to the reserve there is a walk along the beach from Scotmans Point at Clifton. This can only be done at low tide, with the best times of departure being no sooner than three hours after high tide and departing from the Cape no later than 1.5 hours after low tide. The best time for viewing the gannets is between early November and late February. Nesting commences in mid-September and continues through to mid-December. To prevent disturbance to the birds during their early nesting phase, public access to the gannet colonies is closed between July and October.
Goat Island Marine Reserve
Goat Island is about an hours drive from central Auckland to the north up SH1. You take the turn off at Walkworth and follow the signs to the Goat Island Marine Reserve. This is a beautiful piece of NZ coastline. Make sure you’ve packed your snorkel so that you can swim with the fish, shellfish and crayfish. Make sure you go when there is less than one metre swell on the east coast and no wind or offshore wind from the southwest. Visibility underwater is best during late summer when the water is warmest. After heavy rain, easterly swells and onshore winds visibility is usually reduced. Facilities close to the reserve include toilets, changing rooms and a cold shower.
Hobbiton iSite, Matamata
The Hobbiton iSite gives you a taste of what Hobbiton is like. Located in the town of Matamata on Broadway. It is definitely one of New Zealand’s coolest iSite centres and a great photo opportunity for any Lord Of The Rings Fans!!
Hot Water Beach, Coromandel
Hot Water Beach is a beach on Mercury Bay on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, approximately 12kilometres South East of Whitianga. The name comes from the underground hot springs which filter up through the sand between the high and low tides. Hire or bring a spade and dig through the golden sand to create your own natural spa pool as the beach issues water as hot as 64C. These hot springs are only accessible at low tide.
Huka Falls, Taupo
Located just 10 minutes from the Taupo town centre on Huka Falls road, you will come across this 11-metre-high waterfall, the most photographed attraction in New Zealand!! The Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river, runs peacefully north from Lake Taupo between a 100 metre apart gorge. Before Huka Falls, the river then enters a narrow gorge of hard volcanic rock. This causes the previously peaceful river to thunder through at a great speed before exploding into space over Huka Falls, crashing into the pool at the bottom. Ensure your camera batteries are charged and ready to go!!!!
Hunua Falls are only 30-40 min south east from Auckland City and you can only get there by car. The falls are a beautiful park and a great place for a picnic lunch or even dinner, as there is a large, flat area with picnic tables, and toilets only 10 metres from the car park. In terms of swimming looks can be deceiving at Hunua Falls, the falls look like a safe place to swim, however there have been a number of drowning deaths and near miss incidents in the Falls ‘pool’.
It is not recommended that you swim at the Hunua Falls due to:
Deep water – 17 metres at the deepest with sudden drop offs
Cold water – which can be below 15.1◦c
Fresh water – which is not as buoyant as saltwater
Aerated water – at the bottom of the falls further reducing buoyancy
Slippery rocks – both submerged and on the face of the falls
Murky Water – Reducing visibility of submerged objects
Flooding can cause dramatic increases in water levels and flows
No lifeguard service
Kerosene Creek, Rotorua
The hot spring is a small stream between Taupo and Rotorua, flowing downhill through natural bush. It’s a very popular location, where bathers soak in the little hot pools, enjoying the water cascading down. The hot spring isn’t sign posted so directions are as follows, heading south from Rotorua on the road to Taupo, pass the turn off to Murupara on your left, pass a lake on your right, then take the next left turn, just past a small bridge (only about 1.2 km from Murupara turnoff). The signpost is Old Waiotapu Road, follow the road for 2.2km down the road and pull over to the grass verge on the right. Follow the path down a couple of hundred metres beside the stream to the pool itself. Don’t forget to lock your car and hide any valuables!
Kuirau Park Hot Mud Rotorua
Kuirau Park is New Zealand’s only geothermal public park. Here you can enjoy the beautiful gardens, a crater lake, mud pools, hot springs, free thermal foot baths, children’s playground, bbqs, picnic tables and a food market held every Saturday from 6am to 1pm. The walking tracks lead to numerous areas of vigorous geothermal activity. Kuirau Park is off Pukutua and Ranolf Street and open all year round. Ensure you stick on the cool side of the safety fences.
Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth
The Len Lye Centre is an international destination for modern experimental film and kinetic art. The centre holds the collection and archive of Len Lye, one of the most original artists of the twentieth century. The exterior is a shimmering stainless steel façade expressing movement. It’s a modern-day temple, reinterpreting Lye’s Fusion of ancient and modern concepts, and his proposition for a ‘temple of art’. Definitely, add to your ‘to do list’ if you find yourself in New Plymouth!
McLaren Falls, Bay of Plenty
About a 20-minute drive out of Tauranga on McLaren Falls Road, you will find yourself at the breath-taking McLaren Falls! Filled with series of small waterfalls and rock pools that lead downstream to a perfect-looking swimming hole under an iron bridge. Here, you are sure to be able to find a rockpool suitable for any age! Water levels depend on the releasing of McLaren Falls Dam.
Mt Maunganui Summit Track
Follow the boardwalk along the beach and past the surf lifesaving club to find the base of the track. Pick between the two routes, one stepper and more direct, the other is longer but more gradual. The hike can take roughly 30 minutes to 1 hour to reach the summit, this depends on fitness levels and how often you stop to soak up the view. The 360-degree view at the top is well worth the huff and puff to get there!! Don’t forget some sturdy comfortable walking shoes and a bottle of water!
New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
The Coastal walkway is an award winning, 10-kilometre walkway showing off the beautiful west coast. A great track that can also be enjoyed while biking, skating, walking or running. The walkway runs from Hickford Park, Bell Block to the east to port Taranaki to the west, with numerous pedestrian stop offs along the way. The walkway runs through a number of bridges, most notably, the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.
Ngawi Seal Colony
The colony is at the eastern tip of Cape Palliser in the Southern Wairarapa. The drive is about 90 minutes from Wellington. Beware the road becomes a dirt road for the last 20 minute. Drive past Ngawi town which is a very rugged and remote fishing settlement. About 5 minutes after Ngawi you will begin to see the seals on the side of the road. You should be able to see them from your car. Drive very slowly as the seals are very difficult to see as they blend in with the coastline. If you drive to the end of this road there is a Lighthouse that you can climb up to. There is also a coastal walk that heads further East from where you cannot drive. The coastal road is an absolutely stunning walk through beautiful coastal vegetation and geographical features.
North Head Gun Emplacements
This is a head land at the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour where the NZ navy has built gun emplacements to protect Auckland city. You can get here by taking the Devonport Ferry from central Auckland to Devonport. From Devonport you make a 30 minute walk to the east where you will see the headland. Or you can drive to the location by crossing the Auckland Harbour Bridge and head for Devonport. On the headland are some interesting historical features where you walk through and learn about North Head. If you have a torch you can explore the Gun Emplacements. Kids really love this adventure.
Otumuheke Stream Taupo
This is a very popular swimming spot all year round and roughly only a twenty-five-minute walk from Taupo town centre. The natural hot pools are located in Spa Park, Taupo. The hot stream flows into the magnificent Waikato river close to where the river starts its journey from Lake Taupo.
Once you have passed Taupo Bungy & Cliffhanger, turn left into Spa Park until you reach the car park. From there, follow the path towards the river until you come to a bridge. The hot pools are located around and under the bridge.
For the brave hearted you can jump into the cold Waikato river after you have had a nice warm swim in the stream.
Do not leave any valuables in your car. Please ensure items such as iPods, phones, passports, credit cards, cash, wallets or handbags are well hidden.
Make sure your vehicle is securely locked.
Do not leave your belongings unattended at the hot pools. If you are in a group, have a friend stay with your belongings while others swim.
Cyclists, please ensure your bicycles are locked and secured.
Read the New Zealand Police Safety Guide for Visitors for more safety tips.
Piripiri Cave Walk, Waitomo
A short drive from the Mangapohue Natural Bridge and west of Waitomo Village, is the Piripiri Cave Walk. The walk is a short five-minute walk through native bush and limestone outcrops before reaching the cave entrance. A stair case then descends into the cave to a viewing platform where visitors can take in the sights of the large cave. We recommend you take a torch, however, it’s not essential!
Raglan Point Breaks
Raglan is New Zealand’s premiere surfing location. There are 3 main Point Breaks that are a 10 minute drive from Raglan town. If you can get out there when there is a good swell you will see some of New Zealand’s best surfers. You can park your car at the first Point Break, this is called Manu Bay.
Rere Waterslide, Gisborne
An unreal and fun experience for all! Drive approximately 50km north-west from Gisborne on the Wharekopae Road and you will reach the small community of Rere. On route to the waterslide, you will pass Rere Falls and 2km further you will arrive at the Popular Rere Waterslide. The rockslide is roughly 60 metres of rocks that have been smoothed by the constant running water of the Wharekopae river. Pack your boogie board, inflatables, togs, towel and prepare for a fun day!! Be aware of the water quality and keep an eye on any children!!
Grab your boogie board, sunscreen and get ready for the time of your lives!!! You may need a few practice runs to get the hang of things but this is a fun experience for all ages that will keep you entertained for hours!!
Tane Mahuta Tree, Northland
Tane Mahuta is a giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest of the Northland Region, New Zealand. The age of Tane is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years and it is the largest kauri known to stand today. Walk along a quick boardwalk track through beautiful greenery to find Tane. You can continue the track, which leads to another viewing platform. The Tane Mahuta walkway is signposted from SH12, which runs through Waipoua Forest.
This is a stunning walk to amazing water falls and the most amazing swimming spot. The water is warm as the river flows from lake Tarawera and the colour of the water is bright blue. The drive is about 40-60min from either Rotorua or Whakatane. To get here you need to go to the Information Centre in Kawarau. The Information Centre will sell you a day pass for your car or vehicle for $5.00, they will also give you a map and explain how to get there. The road to the falls is through a logging road and is a private road and so you need to get the pass. The road is a dirt road and your car will get caked in dirt. The drive is another 20 minutes from Kawarau. The walk is then another 20-40 minutes depending on how far you go along the track. The waterfall is about 20 minutes in on the track and the swimming spot is another 10-15 minutes. The swimming spot is where the rope swing is. If swimming make sure you don’t drift down the river as there are hidden caves in the river and therefore is very dangerous. But if you swim just by the rope swing the water is very still and safe.
Te Papa, Wellington
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand, located on wellington’s beautiful waterfront. ‘Te Papa Tongarewa’ means ‘container of treasures’, this perfectly describes what you will find at this museum. Discover the treasures and stories of New Zealand’s land and people on the six floors of engaging and interactive displays. The Museum has permanent exhibitions and others that change regularly, ensuring there is new knowledge you can take away from wellington every time you visit!
The Beehive (NZ Parliament)
The Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Building, often reffered to as The Beehive, is registered as a Category I heritage building by Heritage New Zealand. Gaining it’s name from the shop of it’s exterior, a reminiscent of a traditional woven form of beehive, also known as a “skep”. The Beehive is located on the corner of Molesworth Street and Lambton Quay. You can get free tours of The Beehive and Parlaiment but the tours do not run everyday, so please check out to find a tour time that suites your schedule!
The Weta Cave, Wellington
Perfect for all you film fans or just anyone who loves creativity! The famous Weta Cave is in Miramar and only a ten-minute drive from central Wellington or even a short bus ride. The Weta Cave boasts a range of high-end sculptures, prop replicas, art prints and apparel designed by Weta artists. Check out the documentary about the history of movie-making on the Miramar Peninsula! Don’t forget your camera as there are some unique photo opportunities!!!
Arrowtown Chinese Settlement
Arrowtown is in the Southern Lakes District of the South Island near Queenstown. Drive to the western end of the main street in Arrrowtown, this is called Buckingham Street (Which is NZ’s nicest quaint historic retail area). Park your car and follow the signs to the Chinese’s Gold Mining Settlement that was built in the 1860’s. From the carpark, there is a 30-minute walk with numerous stops where you can see the huts that the settlers lived in and read the stories of these hardy men.
Baldwin Street (The World’s Steepest Residential Street)
Dunedin’s Baldwin Street is the world's steepest residential street, according to the Guinness World Records. It is located in the residential suburb of North East Valley, 3.5 kilometres northeast of Dunedin's city centre. The street is so steep that it takes 10min to walk a mere 350metres.
Bluff is a town and seaport in the Southland region, on the southern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the southern-most town in New Zealand (excluding Oban) and, despite Slope Point and Stewart Island being further to the south, is colloquially used to refer to the southern extremity of the country (particularly in the phrase "from Cape Reinga to The Bluff").
Bluff is also known as the oldest settlement town of NZ, with many coastal walks and amazing views. Make sure you take a photo at Stirling Point where you will find the famous AA sign as seen in the photo on our pack of cards!
Canterbury Museum is in central Christchurch and is on the edge of Hagley Park, which is the world’s third largest urban park behind New York and Toronto. The museum celebrates Christchurch’s interesting past and the close relationship Christchurch has had with the South Pole.
Christchurch Art Gallery
The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu, is the public gallery in Christchurch. The gallery has a substantial art collection and presents a program of New Zealand and international exhibitions. Even if you’re on a quick time frame checking out the building’s exterior, including the sculpture at the front, should be on your ‘to do list’
Mackenzie Region Stargazing
Recently, 4,300 square kilometers of New Zealand’s South Island was recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest reserve of this type worldwide. Covering much of the Aoraki/Mount Cook McKenzie region, the Dark Sky Reserve has been labeled as ‘one of the best stargazing sites on earth’. So if you find yourself in this region, don’t forget to look up one night!
Margaret Mahy Playground, Christchurch
The Margaret Mahy Playground is the largest playground in the Southern Hemisphere! The total project cost exceeded NZ$40 million dollars! The playground was built due to the government’s Recovery Plan following the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake, where the idea was a ‘city-wide family playground’. The kids will love you for this stop off!!
Mt Robert Nelson Lakes
This is a stunning day walk, although in winter you may end up in the snow. The walk is not for the faint hearted or small children (although I carried my 4 year old on my shoulders for much of the walk). There is a car park is a short drive from St Anaud. At the base of walk you will see sign posts.
Penguins are a good reason to ensure you stay a night in Oamaru. At sunset, little blue and yellow-eyed penguins waddle ashore to get comfortable for the night. Marine Parade is 1st left at the bottom of the Loop road and is lit by the Port security lights, travel along the road past the skating rink and camper van park and look for a “penguin crossing” road sign. Just remember it is beside the road to the end of the western extension so be aware of traffic movement after dark and other penguin watchers. There is a sign board beside the footpath telling you all about the penguins. They nest amongst the rocks and come ashore before or just after sunset. Please do not try to get close to the penguins or interrupt them from coming ashore. If you arrive after dark, it’s often some penguins have already arrived and you may hear them before you see them as they can be quite noisey. We recommend you tipy-toe down and try hush! Penguins are upset by flashes on cameras so keep this in mind!
Oamaru Old Town
The whitestone townscape of Oamaru contains some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in New Zealand. In the late 19th century, the town prospered through gold mining, quarrying and timber milling. Some of the wealth was spent on elegant stone buildings made from local limestone. The Harbour-Tyne Street area is particularly special – and the shopping is great too. After exploring the Victorian precinct, swing by the steampunk playground and museum.
Ohau Seal Pups Kaikoura
To see the seals there is a short walk that makes it’s way alongside Ohau Stream to a small picturesque waterfall. The start of the walking track is found at the car parking area off SH1, 27 kilometres north of Kaikoura. During the winter months watch the seals in the stream that have travelled up from the ocean and may be young, playful seal pups swimming in the waterfall pool.
Punakaiki – Pancake Rocks
When you drive south along SH6 from Westport to Greymouth, on the South Islands west coast, you will come to Punakaiki. Punakaiki has a collection of rocks that look like 1000’s of pancakes stacked on top of each other. The rocks have been formed by the large West Coast sea constantly pounding this piece of NZ’s coastline. The walk to see the rocks is about 5 minutes and is suitable for all ages. The native NZ bush in Punakaiki is beautiful. There is also a blow hole that works on certain tides.
Pupu Springs, Golden Bay
The Te Waikoropupu Springs (Pupu Springs) are in Takaka Valley about six kilometres west of Takaka Township, on New Zealand’s South Island. The springs are known for the clarity of the water, and the volume of water discharged (14, 000 litres of water per second). To local Maori, Te Waikoropupu Springs are a taonga (treasure) and wahi tapu, a place held in high cultural and spiritual regard. Pupu Springs is closed to forms of contact (including fishing, swimming, diving, wading, boating and drinking the water) to safeguard water quality and to respect cultural values.
Split Apple Rock Kaiteriteri
Split Apple Rock was voted one of the best beaches in the world! To get to this amazing beach you must drive through Kaiteriteri in Golden Bay, Nelson. If you have time, Kaiteriteri itself is an amazing beach to swim at and enjoy. However, to get to Split Apple Rock, drive a further 10 minutes. You will see a car park by a sign pointing to Split Apple Rock Beach. The walk from the car park is another 20-30 min depending on how quick you walk. The beach has rock shaped like a split apple that is an island in the bay. You won't miss it when you get to the beach.
The Coast Road, West Coast.
The drive from Westport to Greymouth (SH6) is one of NZ best drives. The road takes you along the West Coast of the South Island. The drive is stunning because you wind along the coast where you will see some of NZ’s most luscious native vegetation. The Nikau Palms, ferns and bush along this drive are magnificent. You will also see the wild West Coast ocean and beaches, which are breath taking as there is nearly always a good swell pounding this coast. Punakakiki is in the middle of this drive and is a definite place where you must stop to see the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’.
The Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier is on the West Coast of the South Island. The Glacier was first explored in 1865 by Geologist Julius Von Haast, who named it after the Austrian emperor. The glacier is five kilometres from the town of the same name, and a 20 minute walk will take you to it’s terminal face. From the glacier car park, you can hike to a choice of lookout points for a bigger view of this awesome river of ice.
Waipapa Point Sea Lions Catlins
Head out to Waipapa Point for a chance to catch the sea lions most likely slumbering around in the sand, these guys don’t seem to be bothered by human company (although department of conversation recommends keeping a 10-metre distance)! The Catlins is often a popular hang out for not only sea lions but also yellow-eyed and little blue penguins, dolphins and fur seals. The Catlins is a hit for the marine wildlife due to the nutrient rich waters. The sea is particularly rich because of the mixing of warm and cool waters off the coast producing nutrients. Inshore, the north-following Southland current is of warm, sub-tropical origin, while roughly 20-40 kilometres offshore this current converges with cool, sub-Antarctic surface water.
Drive into central Wanaka town and park your car at the edge of lake Wanaka, at the western end of town and make your way out to the end of the jetty . At the end of the Jetty you can look into the lake and see heaps of massive eels. Take your bread and feed the eels.
Yellow Eyed Penguins Catlins
Yellow Eyed Penguins are one of the rarest penguins in the world! To see the Yellow Eyed Penguins make your way to Roaring bay in the Catlins in Otago. Roaring Bay is on the road to Nugget Point and is only a short walk (15 minutes one way) from the car park to a bird-viewing hide. Yellow eyed penguins can be seen here as they move from the seat to their nesting places in coastal vegetation. The best time to see the penguins is late in the afternoon when they have come ashore after fishing at sea.
100 Tuataras Southland Museum
The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is in Gala Street, Invercargill. The museum cares for over 100 tuatara and The Tuatarium (as we call it) is proclaimed to be one of the world’s best enclosures, where you can see tuatara thriving in an environment identical to their natural habitat. The world famous Henry, who is over 110 years old, holds the world record for living captivity for over 46 years! Give Henry and his friends a visit! Tuatara’s can also be viewed outside museum hours, on the north side of the pyramid, you may see some tuatara through the windows.